Graft probes stepped up

Sus­pect ques­tioned in bank loan scan­dal as two more ar­rested for sub­marines

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The ju­di­ciary stepped up a cor­rup­tion probe yes­ter­day, ar­rest­ing two of­fi­cials sus­pected of ac­cept­ing bribes for a sub­ma­rine deal and ques­tion­ing the first sus­pect in a scan­dal em­broil­ing the state-led Hel­lenic Postbank (TT) in the is­su­ing of mil­lions of eu­ros in un­se­cured loans.

The for­mer man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Skara­man­gas Ship­yards, Sotiris Em­manouil, and an as­so­ci­ate of ex-De­fense Min­is­ter Akis Tsochat­zopou­los, Yian­nis Belt­sios, were ar­rested in con­nec­tion with tak­ing bribes to se­cure arms deals. Em­manouil is said to have re­ceived some 23 mil­lion eu­ros to se­cure sub­ma­rine deals with Ger­man firm HDW Fer­rostaal. Au­thor­i­ties ar­rested him in his lux­ury home, which was seized.

War­rants for the ar­rest of the two men were is­sued af­ter for­mer De­fense Min­istry of­fi­cial Apos­to­los Kan­tas al­leged dur­ing tes­ti­mony that they had re­ceived un­der-the-ta­ble pay­ments.

Both were given ex­ten­sions to pre­pare their de­fense – Em­manouil to Fri­day and Belt­sios to Satur­day – and will re­main in cus­tody un­til then.

In a re­lated de­vel­op­ment, sources said 7.5 mil­lion eu­ros was re­turned to the state by Gior­gos Ka­maris, the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of an off­shore firm be­lieved to have been set up by Yian­nis Sbokos, a close as­so­ci­ate of for­mer De­fense Min­is­ter Tsochat­zopou­los, in or­der to cover the kick­back trail. Sbokos was jailed for money laun­der­ing, along with the ex-min­is­ter, in Oc­to­ber.

Ju­di­cial of­fi­cials also moved for­ward yes­ter­day with the probe into TT, which is al­leged to have granted huge loans with­out guar­an­tees to en­trepreneurs, with much of the money al­legedly end­ing up in per­sonal bank ac­counts.

TT’s ex-chair­man An­ge­los Filip­pidis is ex­pected to be ex­tra­dited to Greece from Tur­key, sources in­di­cated yes­ter­day as mag­is­trates started hear­ing the ex­pla­na­tions of sus­pects in the af­fair.

Ar­rested in Is­tan­bul late on Fri­day, Filip­pidis re­mained in cus­tody yes­ter­day. He has in­sisted that all the loans were is­sued prop­erly.

Ju­di­cial of­fi­cials yes­ter­day ques­tioned se­nior TT ex­ec­u­tive Marios Varot­sis. He was given con­di­tional re­lease af­ter post­ing 300,000 eu­ros in bail. Another ex-TT em­ployee, Char­alam­bos Gi­ak­oudis, is to face ques­tion­ing to­day, as will a key sus­pect – the owner of Al­pha TV chan­nel and the In­teramer­i­can insurance com­pany, Dim­itris Kon­tom­i­nas, who is al­leged to have been granted a 110-bil­lion loan by TT.

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